Destruction Aftermath, Book 2a
Chapter 37

Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy

We went home with Poppa and Momma and stayed for most of a week. It would be some time before Laura and Kevin could return. Finally, Bennie said, "We need to get out of here. Let's make that trip to New Orleans."

I nodded and said, "We need to get away and check on our newly weds. I'll tell Momma and Poppa." I called Momma on the two-meter and we QSY'd to a simplex frequency. It wasn't private but there was little likelihood that anyone would be listening. I told her what we planned.

She said, "Jack and I thought you two would go soon. We can watch your land and house. Leave in the morning. Come over tonight for supper and we'll talk."

I agreed and we signed off. I told Bennie and he nodded. We packed for an early start in the morning. The interior was spick and span and would stay that way since we would not cook again until we returned from our trip.

We had supper with Momma and Poppa and a joyous meal it was. Jim and his wives and little Jen were there as well. It was a good time.

We left in the morning and stopped by Mitch's to check on the newly weds. We told them that they were welcome to our house. Kevin looked at Laura and then looked at us and said, "We have talked and would like to stay here. Mitch has offered a house for us along with enough property for a good farm. We will have the reception here next week. Laura is recovered except for an occasional headache. I feel fairly good just still weak and Doc Anne said it will take a few months to regain my strength. She also told me that I wouldn't be as able as I had been before being shot."

Bennie said, "It's your choice. We would love to have you close but this isn't far. It sounds like a good setup." We had a nice supper and looked over their new house. It was very nice with enough room for children.

I said, "Now, you can fill these extra bedrooms." I grinned.

Laura responded, "We'll keep one available for you two, our old, dotty parents." Everyone laughed.

Bennie said, "Well, we old folks need to get some rest for tomorrow's trip and Doc Anne told me that you, Kevin, still need lots of rest."

We all went to bed. On rising the next morning, Mitch and his wife cooked breakfast and many people in the area dropped by to wish us 'god speed' and that they would watch over our lovebirds. We left a little later but trotted out planning to make up some of the time by skipping lunch. We took the Laura and Kevin Highway to I-459. We followed it picking up our route south of Birmingham and heading for Montgomery.

We stopped late that afternoon and found a nice house that was clean and undamaged. Just before we stopped, we went through an area that had suffered from a tornado. You could see the swath that was cut through houses, farms and forests. I decided that being in a tornado would not be a fun experience. Seeing the aftermath was bad enough.

Over the last two or three years, the trickle of people coming from Montgomery had slowed to a stop. None of those who had come through the town reported any problems. We had our natural watchfulness and were looking for signs of people anywhere along or close to the Interstate.

Our plan was to follow I-65 through Montgomery south to Mobile and follow I-10 west into New Orleans. It was an obvious route. We went through Montgomery without incident though Bennie was nervous the entire way through. We had reached an area outside of Montgomery just south of the big Hyundai plant. I had wondered where the plant was since Momma and Poppa had described it. It wasn't as imposing from the Interstate as you might expect. We were in an open area when we saw a simple barricade ahead. It was not meant to stop people but to warn them. It had a neatly lettered sign that read, "Warning. This area is part of the Hope Hull/Pintlala Free District. Peaceful intentions only. Violence will be met with violence." We read the sign and a man called down from the bridge saying, "Strangers, what are your intentions?"

"We're peaceful." Bennie said. "We are travelers from Preservation going to Mobile and New Orleans exploring. We would welcome meeting with you and talking."

"That's good. Come on off the Interstate and head south on US 31 here to a place where you see a small lake on your right. We have a community building there. People will gather there this evening around dusk. There are places to stable your animals and stay for the night. Welcome, I'm Fred."

"Thank you, Fred. I'm Bennie and she's Janice, my wife." We followed his instructions and found everything as he had said. We stabled our horses and put our gear in a little cottage with a small sign that said, "Guest House."

By the time we had accomplished all that and cleaned up, it was becoming dusk and we went out to meet people.

A number of cars were parked in front of the building labeled, "Community Building," which weren't there before when we came in. We walked over to the Community Building hand in hand, pistols on our hips. Poppa was asked one time why he encouraged people to go about armed. He responded that he read somewhere that an armed society is a polite society. We went in and I could see that we were not the only ones armed though only one other woman was armed. Fred met us and introduced us to his wife, Mabel, and pointed out their three children who were running around having fun. We met a few others. After a while, Fred called the meeting to order. Everyone was seated and he stood in front of them and said, "I am District Speaker for this month. Thank you for coming. We have guests. Janice and Bennie are from Preservation, which they told me is in Georgia south of I-20 stretching from East Alabama over most of Georgia. I ask one of them to be ready to speak during new business and tell us more about their community.

"It's time for committee reports. Mabel is first on the Airport Status Committee."

"Dannelly Field is still usable but only barely. Since Bart was killed in the accident, we have no pilots but the planes are ready and there is fuel for them. We are considering a teaching system for the smaller planes though, without a flyer, that could have some problems."

"Jerome, please give a report on fuel and electricity issues."

"As you know, our fuel will not last forever. The pipeline has finally ceased to run for us though we have stockpiled a lot of fuel. The grid is holding up pretty well and we have been able to work around problems thus far. As with everyone, time is not on our side. In the long run, we will be out."

"Ralph, you and Melody have the farming issues report."

A woman stood, "Ralph's voice is hoarse from yelling at the horses in our plowing. We can grow good crops and can move to non-technical methods without too much trouble. We might not be able to cultivate as much per man hour, but can grow enough to support ourselves. Tornados and other harsh conditions are a concern. Seed is not."

Fred asked, "Is there any old business to be addressed?" He looked around, but no one spoke. "There being none, we will look to new business. First, I call on Bennie or Janice to tell us something of their community and their experiences."

Bennie had told me to talk if we were asked. His reasoning is that, if the community wasn't friendly to women in equality, we would find out quickly. I stood and said, "I will give some history and tell you of how we are governed in Preservation and of our plans for the future.

"My name is Janice Mathews Sullivan and I'm with my husband, Bennie. We are from Preservation, a new community, located south and west of Atlanta. We started centered around the Mathews family, who were farmers. My adoptive parents, Jack and Shirley Mathews, were both Georgia Tech graduates before the Day and married shortly after the Day. As they made their way to the family home place, I was one of the ones rescued. We have fought off invasions from the Carolinas twice. We have banded together for mutual protection.

"We are governed by an elected Council and Poppa Jack is the Director and Chair of the Council. We make decisions through the Council and Poppa leads us if we fight. Atlanta is a rich treasure house and we have had to preserve it and prevent it and us from being exploited. We have intentionally gone to mostly horses and mules rather motorized vehicles. On the other hand, we have electricity through small hydroelectric generating plants. The other thing that we have is we are in contact using amateur radios. Momma and a number of others were hams before the Day and we train everyone to use the radios in an effective manner. We don't depend upon landline phones or cell phones for communications.

"Finally, Bennie and I have been designated explorers on behalf of our community. We are tasked with finding survivors and encouraging those who have a working community and discouraging any with plans of conquest that might involve Preservation. Unfortunately, we have found few groups who are not predatory. We have hoped to find more good people on this trip. We are going to New Orleans and then head north to Memphis and then return home by Birmingham.

"Your guest house is nice and we appreciate the opportunity to rest with you and learn from one another." I sat down. Bennie patted my hand and smiled at me.

Fred said, "The power generation and the radios are interesting. We have managed to keep the power grid up in this area but there will be a day when that is no longer possible. The radios sound good, too. We are using push-to-talk cell phones but have lost one tower in a corner of our area."

I stood back up and said, "We knew that the power grid would be or eventually become a problem. No one in our community had worked for a power company or had the experience to bring power back from a failure. Within three weeks of the Day, a large substation was hit by lightning in a storm and took out the power in a large part of our area. Knowing our weakness in that area, we had already been preparing plans for diesel and gas generators until we could build and install small hydroelectric generating systems. The ones we build cover one to four houses. We have enough hills that building small ponds is not an overwhelming task. We have a machine shop that can build the turbines for generation.

"Radios are different. With some of our originating members being hams, we went to that type radio rather than anything else. For more distant communication, we use HF radios that are capable of operating in different bands. Those bands have different characteristics depending upon the distance involved and atmospheric conditions. Bennie and I have traveled the east coast into Canada and have always been in contact with home. For local use, we have two-meter radios that operate on FM. Hams use a repeater system that is a little bit similar to a cell tower. We have a linked system of repeaters for our entire community. The system allows us to talk to anyone in Preservation at any time. We have a manned station on twenty-four hours a day for emergencies. We reported in earlier and Poppa sends his regards to all of you."

There was a buzz as I sat down. After a bit, Fred called for order and it quieted down. He said, "Would one of you field questions?"

Bennie stood up and said, "Sure."

'Your wife said that you had quit using motorized vehicles. Do you have any in reserve or are you totally dependent upon horses?"

Jack, our Director, and the Council made the decision that using renewable resources as much as possible and as soon as possible would be a good idea. Horses reproduce naturally and eat food that we can grow. Our supplies of gas and diesel are finite and we are careful about motorized vehicle use. We have them and maintain some for emergency use but do not use them on a daily basis."

"Would you tell me more about these radios?"

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